Developmentally appropriate methods
Soccer is a simple game. When you practice it, teach it or watch it the game must bring pleasure. Playing well is a priority in our club. Our philosophy is possession-based because we want to win by having control of the match. Our principles of play are our collective foundations, but within this framework each player must be able to make decisions and take initiative according to the game situations.
The concept of a teammate is essential because each player has to put his individual qualities at the service of the team.
Player development objectives
- Able to read the game and adjust their decisions.
- Able to use both feet and master the ball (functional technical skills).
- Able to perform different modes of locomotion (physically literate).
- Evolve in a competitive environment.
- Able to do the right things and do the things right (values of the club).
- Able to play and give their best for their team (be a good teammate).
Players Development Pathway
Stage 1: Futbol School
U8: Fun soccer experience
With a concentration on training, players receive instruction from qualified coaches who are both nationally trained as well as trained in the curriculum from the Chicago Fire Academy. Players are introduced to competition with 8 games per season (fall, winter, spring) and limited tournament play. This way players are not overwhelmed by any pressures from competition and can focus on play, enjoying the game, and technical development.
U9-U12: Introduction to the key qualities of the a player
Players train 2x per week (like U8) but now train for 1.5 hours each training session for a total of 3 hours of training per week. If players choose to do so, they can also access additional training opportunities through our technically focused camps and clinics. Players again play in the local competitive leagues, but the concentration remains on training. As the players move forward in age and competition level, additional tournament play is offered at local tournaments in Chicagoland.
Fire Juniors ETP: The Emerging Talent Program
Starting at U11, players may be selected for the Fire Juniors Emerging Talent Program. Each year, players are nominated for the Fire Juniors national network program. This program brings together players from around the country who play in various Fire Juniors soccer clubs. At U11, players who are selected may participate in a training camp with other players from around the Fire Juniors national network. At U12-U14, players who are selected participate in a training camp and complete an additional selection progress for competition at a national tournament.
Players in the ETP program are coached at the training camp and at the national tournaments by Fire Juniors coaches who are also nominated and selected by the directors at each Fire Juniors soccer club.
Stage 2: Preformation (U13-U15)
U13-U15: Develop the key qualities of the players
At this age, the technical qualities of the players are emphasized as well as specific attention given to the physical preparation in the pre-game, post-game, and season planning. As the players begin mature, we begin to offer additional programming for the psychological, physical, and socio-emotional elements of player development. This includes:
- Season periodization planning, including recovery days after intense competition periods
- Leadership programming and an annual service hour
- Team travel itineraries
- Goal setting (process, outcome, team, and personal)
- Coach feedback conferences
- Personal evaluation forms
Technical training is offered in technical skill camps and clinics. Tactical development at this age is based on the number system and specific tactical decisions related from small groups to full team are taught.
Stage 3: Formation (U16-U19)
U16-U19: Execute the key qualities
Players at this age will adapt their play as required in matches. The training will continue to develop technical abilities but under the pressure of increased training speed and intensity. The soccer year is broken into segments based on key competition phases and league seasons. At U16-U19, players attend college showcases in addition to state and regional tournaments.
Coaches organize sessions to develop key tactical concepts and often positions are referenced in each activity even though the activity may only uses a portion of field. Coaches can be demanding and will use guided questions to impact decision making. Players are challenged to perceive other players' movements and the game's spatial developments in advance in order to make accurate and timely decisions.